RSC expands Shakespeare in schools scheme 

26 Jun 2023

The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) is expanding its partnership scheme with schools across England to five new locations.

It will start working with pupils in Skegness, Coventry, Peterborough, Corby and Hartlepool to help them become more familiar with Shakespeare's work.

The RSC's Associate Schools Programme currently includes 26 areas of structural disadvantage across England, where opportunity in culture and art is low and where educational attainment and employment opportunities lag behind the national average.

The programme reaches 135,000 children and young people each year, helping them to build language skills by engaging with the richness of the Bard’s plays. It also aims to show them the range of job opportunities possible in the theatre sector.

The RSC aims to accelerate language acquisition, raise aspiration and widen creativity and critical thinking. 

A study is under way to assess the programme’s overall impact but teachers have reported that “children who weren't previously meeting expected standards now consistently are – because of how they're taught Shakespeare”, Jacqui O'Hanlon, the RSC's director of learning and national partnership, told the BBC.

RSC actors perform in the schools, as well as at local theatres involved in the programme, and the company trains teachers at participating schools in techniques used by actors and directors in rehearsals.

They guide children in acting, exploring characters and their language choices, and analysing the words to find their meanings.

“The language development of a child by age five is still the greatest predictor of whether that child can escape poverty in later life,” O'Hanlon said.

Children “get really curious about the possibilities of the meaning of particular words, rather than finding them scary or confusing”, she added.

“Time and again it's the children who have struggled with reading and writing who are absolutely captivated by these plays.”

It is precisely the difficulty of Shakespeare's language that can be life-changing, she said.

“It's all about giving the children the tools to decode things. They get a feeling of power. It's like unlocking a secret code. So they feel like they can do anything.”

University of Warwick opens new space in Venice

26 Jun 2023

The University of Warwick has relocated its base in Venice to a historic Palazzo overlooking the Grand Canal.

The new site, on the second floor of the 17th Century Palazzo Giustinian Lolin building, will be used for course modules and summer schools. 

The university has relocated from its previous space in the Italian city, where it opened in 1967 to offer a 'Venice term' to history and history of arts students studying the Renaissance.

The new site is intended to attract thousands of global students, researchers and partners. It is part of a £100m investment in arts and humanities over the last five years, the largest in the university's history.

The university has announced that it is investing a record amount in the arts, despite a cut in government funding. It has seen an 11% rise in applications to arts and humanities degrees this year, leaving many courses oversubscribed.

“We need to stop talking arts degrees down and start championing their growing value and importance,” Vice Chancellor Prof Stuart Croft told the BBC.

“The future isn't STEM rather than the arts – it's very clearly both,” he added. “However, we must keep evolving so we reflect the fast-changing needs of society and employers, by offering opportunities to learn from different disciplines to provide a fully rounded education.”

Large reduction in music education hub numbers confirmed

19 Jun 2023

Music hubs to begin working over larger geographic areas, as application guidance for prospective Hub Lead Organisations and indicative funding for each area is published.

Performing arts college to open in Brighton

15 Jun 2023

A new performing arts college will open in Brighton in September with an initial intake of 85 students.

The Brighton Argus reports that BN1 Arts has been founded by music industry professional, West End performer and educator Mia Bird.

It will bring together music and performing arts under one roof by offering 16 to 18-year-olds level 3 extended diplomas in creative and performing arts, and level 3 extended diplomas in the creative music industry.

"Our mission is to offer young people the very best arts training in the UK,” Bird said.

“At BN1 Arts we deliver traditional tutoring in creative specialties while providing a unique insight into the current trends and demands of the professional performance industry."

The college also intends to act as a professional hub within the city, connecting individuals in the creative industries and establishing links with businesses.

Creative sector blueprint pledges support for young people

14 Jun 2023

The Creative Industries Sector Vision pledges to provide equal access to a creative education, promote creative career pathways and invest in creative skills and training.

Campaign to make festivals affordable for the young 

A large crowd in front of a stage at an outdoor summer music festival in England, UK.
13 Jun 2023

Amid evidence that rising costs are preventing young people from accessing music festivals, a new campaign seeks to offer tickets for just £18.

Goldsmiths becomes Artsmark’s national delivery partner

08 Jun 2023

Goldsmiths, University of London, will be Artsmark Award’s new national delivery partner from the start of the 2023-24 academic year.

Artsmark is the only creative quality standard for schools and education settings in England.

Accredited by Arts Council England, the award is available across three tiers - silver, gold and platinum - to schools in England.

Schools can apply for Artsmark certification by registering online, attending development training and submitting a statement of commitment and impact, with most schools taking up to two years to complete the process.

Artsmark’s website says schools with the accreditation can unlock a number of benefits, including access to professional support, advice and resources to strengthen arts provision, opportunities to train staff and support to help broaden the school’s creative curriculum.

As the new national delivery partner, Goldsmiths will develop “high-quality support and training for our Artsmark schools and education settings, marking a new chapter of collaboration, innovation, and creativity”.

Warden of Goldsmiths Professor Frances Corner says the university is delighted to be supporting the delivery of the programme.  

“This is timely and vital work in a context of economic uncertainty and evidenced inequalities in England’s cultural education landscape, and we are proud of the opportunity to make a difference, inspire ambition, and contribute to social mobility in and through the arts and culture.”

Bletchley Park learning centre opens after £13m redevelopment

06 Jun 2023

A formerly run-down World War Two building at Bletchley Park has opened as a new museum learning centre, part of a £13million redevelopment of the historic site.

The centre is in Block E, originally built in 1943 as part of Bletchley’s wartime intelligence gathering operation.

The restored and refurbished building in Bletchley, Milton Keynes is dedicated to ‘formal and informal learning programmes’.

Lily Dean, Learning Manager for the Bletchley Park Trust, the independent charity that runs the site, said it would be a "state-of-the-art learning centre".

She added: “This facility will enable more students to visit us, supporting their studies in STEM subjects, and helping us to share the amazing feats of human ingenuity that took place at Bletchley Park with more learners than ever before.”  

Block E features eight learning spaces designed to host more than 13 tailored workshops.

The completion of the new learning centre is the concluding phase of a redevelopment project that has also seen the creation of a new permanent exhibition, 'The Intelligence Factory', and a Collection Centre housing more than 420,000 items relating to Bletchley Park's wartime work.

Foundling Museum makes 'urgent' appeal to secure future

Visitors in Introductory Gallery at the Foundling Museum
01 Jun 2023

The institution is seeking £1m in additional funding by September to secure the long-term future of its building and collections.

A musical career in three movements

Headshot of Kirsteen Davidson Kelly
30 May 2023

With a working life of more than 30 years, Kirsteen Davidson Kelly explores how her early career in performance has informed her present leadership role in the music world.  

New resources promote career pathways to young people

A young person sits at a music production desk. She is holding headphones with her back to the camera
22 May 2023

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan partners with industry leaders for film series and educational resources informing young people of pathways into creative jobs.

Worthing College to close performing arts department

Worthing College building, captured from a distance across a field.
17 May 2023

More than 2,000 people have signed an online campaign to save the department after its planned closure was announced.

Nurturing the next generation of creative talent

Architects view of Roundhouse Works
16 May 2023

There’s a wealth of talent and ambition in the UK’s younger generation but, if we ignore their needs, we’re at risk of losing a generation of creative talent, writes Tina Ramdeen.

Educators warn of decline in dance education

Young people taking part in a dance class
15 May 2023

A survey of educators working in higher education institutions finds the number of higher education dance courses and the number of specialist dance staff has fallen.

Children create performance space in London theatre

12 May 2023

Primary school children from four schools in London have built a temporary performance structure at South London theatre Brixton House.

Organised by architecture educator Matt + Fiona, the project, called Let’s Build, was designed to teach participants creative and practical building skills that are disappearing from schools.

The number of students studying design and technology at GCSE level has seen the steepest decline of all creative subjects, having dropped by two-thirds in the last decade.

"Design and build projects of this kind are invaluable in helping to fill the gap left behind," said Matt + Fiona co-founder Fiona MacDonald.

"They give young people the agency to shape their own environments and grow in confidence and their own identities."

The performance structures are made of timber and will remain in the theatre for schools and community groups to use for free. It will also be used as a rehearsal space for the Brixton House Youth Theatre.

Brixton House, which commissioned the project, then plans to donate the structures to any interested schools or community groups.

Music education charities partner on curriculum framework 

09 May 2023

Two music education charities are joining forces to deliver a programme focused on improving the provision of the music curriculum in state primary schools.

Music Masters and Voices Foundation have announced a pilot programme for their partnership in which they will collaborate with 29 primary schools in one of the largest multi-academy trusts in England, The Kemnal Academies Trust, located across Kent and West Sussex.

According to a statement released by the two charities, the pilot will see the development of a curriculum framework that supports teaching staff and is informed by the needs and resources of the school communities. 

The programme plans to focus on academies and free schools, which make up more than 40% of primary schools in the country, as there is currently no statutory obligation for such schools to follow the national curriculum for music.

Voices Foundation CEO Manvinder Rattan said the programme “will fundamentally improve the music education experience for so many children”.

“The music education sector is remarkable in its diversity but it is quite fragmented,” Rattan added.

“I have long believed that, in order to make the greatest positive impact on children, we need to hold hands with our partners much more firmly. And that is exactly what we're doing here.”

Opening up leadership to young expertise

A group of young people sitting on an among wooden boxes
09 May 2023

Rob Drummer is a man on a mission to cultivate change in the theatre industry for the benefit of young people. Here he shares why he's taking the bold step to appoint leaders under 25.

An epic collective digital artwork celebrating UK wildlife

Mobile phone showing The Wild Escape app photographing wildlife
09 May 2023

At a time when museums are facing increasing external pressures, Mike Keating shares how a major new project has inspired children to respond to the UK’s natural environment.

Welsh cultural organisations benefit from £3m legacy

04 May 2023

A legacy donation in excess of £3m has been left to the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama (RWCMD) and Welsh National Opera (WNO).

The organisations have said that the money, left by the late David Seligman, will be used to deliver lasting support to the training of singers and musicians and will also create future opportunities for young artists to perform on a professional scale.

RWCMD Director of Music, Tim Rhys-Evans said: "I had the very great pleasure of knowing David and [his late wife] Philippa for many years and saw first-hand their belief in young people and the power of singing to enrich young lives. 

"Their passion for opera in particular was something incredibly dear to them, and the need for this artform to be made accessible and relevant to young people of every background was a major driving force behind their philanthropy. 

"David knew the impact that legacies of any size can have, and now his exceptional gift will ensure that future generations of artists will continue to be supported for many years to come."  

WNO Youth Opera Producer, Paula Scott said: "We are incredibly grateful for this generous bequest. David and Philippa Seligman were passionate supporters of WNO Youth Opera, and we are delighted to be honouring them both by continuing our work with young artists." 

ACE commits £400k to coronation events

King Charles sitting on grass speaking with two children
04 May 2023

Arts Council England (ACE) contributes six-figure sum to cultural events celebrating the King's coronation.


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